EAST LANSING, Mich. — The East Lansing Downtown Development Authority (DDA), with support from the East Lansing Arts Commission, has entered into a partnership with the MSU Department of Art, Art History and Design to bring a four-year public art mural project to downtown East Lansing. The project is called “Life is a Groovy Opportunity.”
Each year, for the next four years, a team of graduate and undergraduate students will have the opportunity to conceive and paint a mural on the north-facing outside wall of the Division Street Garage, 181 Division Street. Each mural will respond to and extend the mural from the year before. The first mural is being painted over the course of this week and into this weekend during the East Lansing Art Festival, May 18-19.
The team of artists for the first mural include: Associate Professor Benjamin Duke, Andrew Somoskey, Emily Somoskey, Hector Acuna, Peter Shutt, Meghan Hollister and Kiel Darling.
“Our project is a picture of blunt optimism, growth, transformation and a picture of our sense of place,” said Duke. “Works of public art have the potential to change the way that our communal spaces look and feel. They can transform our sense of place, of what it means to live in this place now.”
This four-year project is meant to bring contemporary art and artists to public spaces in an effort to enhance and celebrate art’s role in civil discourse. It also provides an opportunity to connect young artists with working professionals. Each year, a muralist will also come to work alongside the students. The inaugural visiting artist is Trent Call. Call was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah and graduated from the University of Utah in 2004 with a BFA. He is actively involved in a diverse collection of ongoing projects and has painted numerous murals throughout the United States. Call’s work combines formal academic painting, comics, graffiti and pop culture. He currently works out of CAPTAIN CAPTAIN studios in beautiful downtown Salt Lake City.
The DDA previously partnered with the MSU Department of Art, Art History and Design back in 2017, which resulted in the installation of a student-created mural in the Grove Street alley as part of the East Lansing Artist Alleys placemaking project. Given the positive outcome of that project, the DDA was excited to partner again on this new student project.
“The DDA is continuing to reaffirm its support of public art and is honored to continue to provide an opportunity for students to create permanent installations in the heart of our community,” said East Lansing DDA Chair Peter Dewan. “This year, we envisioned a project that would complement the East Lansing Art Festival and provide our community members and visiting festival patrons with an opportunity to witness the creation of art in progress.”
Community members are encouraged to come watch the student muralists in action during this weekend’s ELAF. Festival hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday, May 19. Additional information about the festival is available at www.elartfest.com.